The Electrical Worker online
July 2014

From the Officers
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'All of Us Are Necessary'

Strong unions are built on two pillars.

First is the willingness of the membership to stand together. If there is no unity of purpose and no confidence in the courage and fortitude of the members, there is no union.

Second is a broad membership representing a variety of backgrounds, but also — and this is often forgotten — a wide variety of jobs and industries. The most obvious reason is that a union in only one industry can be devastated by a recession. A labor movement that does not represent the full diversity of jobs and people in our two countries also opens itself up to political attacks — however unfair — that it is an elitist club that only looks out for its own.

From the beginning, the labor movement has committed itself to winning respect, a voice and a dignified living for every worker.

At times, I believe some people in the labor movement have seen these two sources of strength as mutually exclusive. They say you cannot be both wide and deep.

I have never believed that to be true and offer our membership as a rebuke to those who do.

Just in recent months, we've welcomed to our ranks scores of tree trimmers, the men and women keeping rights of way passable for utility linemen as well as several hundred attorneys general from New Jersey. We have members building a coal fired power plant with revolutionary carbon sequestration technology, we have members just beginning careers as helpers on construction projects and others building a space telescope that will see into the very farthest reaches of time and space.

Cameramen and railworkers, wiremen and telephone operators and so many, many more. The IBEW is hundreds of thousands of hard-working, creative folks who rarely make news outside of our pages, but they represent the very best of North America and its labor movement.

I think Baltimore Local 1501 member Colette Lepage put it remarkably well in this month's story about the James Webb Space Telescope when she said, "Everything we do here is bigger than anyone of us, but all of us are necessary for it to succeed."


Also: Chilia: We're Spreading the News Read Chilia's Column

Edwin D. Hill

Edwin D. Hill
International President